Stolz, Joseph

views updated


STOLZ, JOSEPH (1861–1941), U.S. rabbi. Born in Syracuse, he went to public schools and then to the University of Cincinnati, where he received his B.L. in 1883. A year later he was ordained in the second class of Hebrew Union College. In 1880 he received a D.D., writing on the "Funeral Agenda," and a half century later an honorary D.H.L. Upon ordination he was appointed rabbi in Little Rock, Arkansas, at B'nai Israel Temple and then in 1887 he moved to Chicago as assistant to Bernard Felsenthal at Zion Temple. After eight years, he moved to the South Side of Chicago, at a time when Jews were moving to that part of Chicago from the West Side, and formed a new congregation with his migrating members. Under his leadership they formed Temple Isaiah, meeting in the Oakland Club Hall in 1896. Two years later, they had built and dedicated a building. He remained there for the rest of his career. He was active in the affairs of his community, serving as a member of the Chicago Board of Education for six years (1899–1905), appointed by the mayor, Carter Harrison, and as a member of the Chicago Criminal Commission. He was president of the Chicago Rabbinical Association from 1920 to 1925 and of the Chicago Federation of Synagogues. On a national level, he was also active in the ccar and was its president from 1905 to 1907. In 1921 he led the merger efforts of Temple Israel and Isaiah Temple.

His wife, blanche a. stolz (née Rauth), brought the Union to Reform Judaism. A young man came to her husband in preparation for his marriage to a young woman coming from Germany. In the ensuing months he had to make all the wedding arrangements as well as assure his future in-laws that he could provide a simple home for their daughter. Rabbi and Mrs. Stolz took an interest in the young man and took him under their wing. Mrs. Stolz found it interesting that many messages of good wishes came for the bride and groom from Germany in identical envelopes. Later on, Rabbi and Mrs. Stolz learned from the bride that the Jewish girls' club she belonged to in Germany used a special message blank to raise funds for their charities. Some years later, after she became a delegate to the founding convention of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (now Women of Reform Judaism), Mrs. Stolz recalled the messages sent to this couple and became convinced that identical message blanks could be used by sisterhoods and their members.


T. Schanfarber, "Joseph Stolz," in: American Jewish Year Book, vol. 43 (1941–42); Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (110:69); K.M. Olitzky, L.J. Sussman, and M.H. Stern (eds.), Reform Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Source-book (1993).